November 26, 2019

Artistic Aspirations Fulfilled


Make art and follow your heart. That has been the secret to Katherine Maloney’s joie de vivre since discovering her course of study at Guilford. 

The 2013 graduate majored in Art with a concentration in Ceramics and a minor in Religious Studies. She considered Environmental Studies or something more strictly academic than Art, but it only took one Art class to change her mind. 

“I had no other choice if I wanted to be happy and successful in college,” Katherine says. “While I enjoy academics and intellectual thought, my whole life I’ve worked with my hands, whether creating art or working on my family’s farm.”

[Watch a video about Guilford's Ceramics concentration.]

Her first Guilford Art class was Art and Inspiration with David Newton. “During a student-teacher meeting David said to me, ‘So you’re gonna be an Art major, right?’ ” Katherine recalls. “This small boost of confidence and encouragement made up my mind to pursue an Art major. David passed away from cancer the following year after a long career as a successful artist and extremely likable teacher. He had a huge influence on me simply because he saw my potential before I could.”

Professors Charlie Tefft and Adele Wayman were also mentors of Katherine’s, and she’s in touch with both to this day. Charlie had a big influence on Katherine’s aesthetic approach as she was developing her personal style in clay, and the two have put on art shows together.

“He is a fantastic clay instructor, often finding an ideal balance between high expectations and helping students feel comfortable and free to explore personal ideas,” Katherine says. “If I ever find myself a college professor in clay, I will certainly be calling up Charlie for advice.”

Adele was Katherine’s adviser and her professor for Zen, the Art of Zen, and an independent Art study. “Adele became a strong mentor to me through her friendship and encouragement but also as a teacher who was always honest and excellent at constructive criticism. During thesis, I especially valued her critique and advice,” Katherine notes.

"Take advantage of all the resources for studios, equipment, and of course teachers while in school. Finding opportunities to explore other mediums which require specific equipment becomes much harder after college. The resource of knowledge and support from teachers is such a special part of undergrad, where ideas and learning can flourish. But as students, you have to make the effort to actively engage."

Katherine Maloney '13
Art major, Ceramics concentration

Where Ideas Flourish

Today, as the owner of her own ceramics business, Katherine’s body of work integrates animal figure with vessels using techniques of wheel throwing, altering, sculpting, and detailed carving. Many of the pieces are more decorative than utilitarian, inspired by nature and ceremonial vessels in historical ceramics. 

“As a ceramic artist I hope to always strive for a more interesting idea and higher level of craftsmanship. This will help keep me excited and fresh in my approach to clay,” she says.

What advice does she have for others considering art? 

“Take advantage of all the resources for studios, equipment, and of course teachers while in school. Finding opportunities to explore other mediums which require specific equipment becomes much harder after college. The resource of knowledge and support from teachers is such a special part of undergrad, where ideas and learning can flourish. But as students, you have to make the effort to actively engage.” 

She also advises not letting anyone talk you out of majoring in Art because of the universal skills you can develop such as problem solving, comprehensive thinking, making things with your hands, and creative exploration.

In fact, Katherine has been doing a good bit of exploring this summer during a trip to Japan, where she is visiting a friend. Because both are ceramicists and interested in Japanese religions, their sightseeing has revolved around ceramics and temples as well as the beautiful gardens. The two spent more than a week making work and firing a wood kiln at the Sasayama studio of potter John Dix. Katherine says, “I’m having a great time and seeing lot of fabulous art, architecture, and landscapes, all sure to have inspirational value for my own artwork and life.”

Are you looking for a college with a strong art program, plus opportunities to develop and explore your other interests? Schedule your personalized visit to Guilford today.